What makes millennials tick – and whether they should be treated as a homogenous group – is a popular topic of debate. Taek Lee, who heads the consulting group for southeast Asia and oversees enterprise business development for APAC at Gallup, takes us through its latest research on the subject.

How do millennials want to live and work and what impact does this have on how they should be managed?

Millennials are quite different in the way they view their careers. According to our research, unlike many generations before them who saw their career as just a job – and perhaps more as a means to create or support what was of most value to them in life, such as family – millennials look for purpose in their careers. They are potentially the most committed generation, in terms of ‘career’, that we have come across in decades. There are obviously many theories on how millennials should be managed but if we dig deeper into the research, we find they are the group most ‘wanting to learn and grow’ in organisations and the group most wanting to ‘be coached and developed’ in order to turn their talent sets into strengths.

How is the millennial generation different as a workforce to previous generations?

Perhaps one the most important aspects of the millennial generation is their need for frequent feedback. Millennials see this as ‘ongoing conversations’ with their managers. Although they are not necessarily known to always ask for feedback, research shows that they need ongoing feedback and strengths-based coaching to learn and grow, and eventually find the purpose in their careers that they are looking for.

What can organisations do to attract, engage and retain millennials at work?

They can start by adopting the right type of developmental philosophy. Fulfilling the need for ‘ongoing conversations’ will be necessary to retain and develop this group, however what’s more important is the type of conversations that take place. If organisations are willing to embrace the strengths-based development philosophy, where coaches help individuals develop their talents, it is truly a winning formula. Once the philosophy has been adopted, and the right platforms and processes are in place to ensure this is culturally accepted and practiced, each individual coaching conversation will be geared towards personalised development. This is how organisations can create ongoing conversations and help millennials develop. They don’t necessarily want a boss to manage them – they want a coach to develop them.

Why is it important for organisations to understand the mindset of millennials?

As generational shifts occur in organisations, so organisational development philosophies, platforms, and practices must shift. This is how organisations stay ahead of the curve and create the right culture.

Millennials are often accused of being job-hoppers, moving from employer to employer. Is this true and if so, what are the reasons behind it?

Engagement. All the data from our research points towards the importance of engaging millennials. When they are engaged, there is less likelihood of them ‘job-hopping’. The developmental shifts I mentioned are the key to engaging this group.

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